UCF has long supported the spirit of entrepreneurship with resources dedicated to helping up-and-coming businesses and molding the next great CEOs.
For more than two decades, the Business Incubation Program has facilitated smarter, faster startup growth for nearly 600 companies that has led to $2.4 billion of economic impact. In addition, UCF is host to the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBCD) at UCF, which provides consulting, training and resources to help entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and succeed. While the business incubator and FSBDC are open to anyone in the community, UCF also has several programs housed under its Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership geared specifically toward students, including Blackstone LaunchPad, Joust New Venture Competition and UpStarts Student Venture Incubator Program.
The university also offers a wide variety of courses to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs who will shape the future.
These following classes are a sampling of what is offered in the 2021-22 school year. Instructors chimed in on their respective classes on how the course material applies in today’s society and what students can expect to learn throughout the semester.
Registration for fall classes is open through Aug. 22.
Class description: This course portrays entrepreneurship as a creative problem-solving process, emphasizing opportunity recognition, resourcefulness and leadership that results in startup, social, government and corporate ventures.
Cameron Ford, associate professor of management: “I want students to understand that success is derived from creating value for others. One needs to gain empathy for other peoples’ frustrations to create solutions they will value. This is true for entrepreneurs as well as employees — how can you know what you’re worth unless you understand your capacity to help others? Entrepreneurial mindsets and skill sets prepare people to imagine futures that do not yet exist, experiment with creative solutions, learn from their trials and make things better. These professional superpowers are essential to professional agility, impact, and fulfillment.”
Class description: Applied course that focuses on the creation, evaluation, development and launch readiness of a new business or social venture.
Michael Pape, Dr. Phillips Entrepreneur in Residence and professor of practice: “In business, ‘design thinking’ is a human-centered approach to problem solving. I utilize that framework and others to discuss business model design. In my experience as a research biochemist, biotech executive and venture capitalist, one encounters a relentless stream of frustrations and problems. Providing students some tools to discover what underlies problems is important given the pace of change and innovation in the world.”
Class description: Develops procedure and plans standard business functions so start-up businesses can implement a well-researched business model necessary to launch the venture.
“Launching a new venture can alleviate poverty, create higher well-being and satisfaction with life, and benefit the larger economy that the new venture serves.” — Jeff Gish, assistant professor
Jeff Gish, assistant professor of management: “Entrepreneurship improves life outcomes. Launching a new venture can alleviate poverty, create higher well-being and satisfaction with life, and benefit the larger economy that the new venture serves. Those are all outcomes that I care about, and we discuss these and more throughout the course. I see my course as a way for students to pick up an entrepreneurial skill set that employers appreciate. If they choose to start a business right away or later in life, I’m confident the skills they develop in this course will serve them well.”
Class description: How technology and innovation processes affect social and organizational change, and the distinct challenges associated with launching, managing and growing technology-based business ventures.
Gary Nichols, associate instructor of management: “In this course, teams are required to submit a business plan for a product or service they have created or developed. Many students have commented they really did not know how detailed it was to start a venture. My goal is to give them the basic understanding of the process and to apply it to a ‘real’ product or service they wish to promote. The benefit is the confidence and increased knowledge about the concepts and tools necessary to pursue their entrepreneurial goals and dreams.”
Class description: Emphasis on understanding how social entrepreneurs effect change in underserved communities in the developing world.
Jared Allen ’21PhD, former instructor: “Our social entrepreneurship course teaches students the fundamentals of starting a venture and emphasizes the importance of having a social mission that can create enduring, systemic improvements to local communities. My hope is that students will learn that it is possible to create a successful venture (either for-profit or not-for profit) that can have an impact on an important social issue. Many believe that this is a dichotomous choice, between either a struggling social venture that aids society or a profitable commercial venture. The truth is you can build a venture that grows over time and contributes to the improvement of society.”
Class description: Students will learn how to plan, open and manage a small business. Topics include business plan development, general management, franchising, family businesses, buying a business, and independent contracting.
Harrison ‘Hal’ Thayer, instructor of integrated business: “This course lays the foundation for future entrepreneurs by showing them the path from identifying an opportunity to starting up to eventually managing a small business. Studying and understanding small business development can only increase their likelihood of success and the success of their ventures. My goal for students who take this class is they understand how exciting, challenging and rewarding entrepreneurialism and small business ownership can be for someone with ambition, determination and the will to succeed.”
Class description: Using public and private data to make informed business decisions. Includes issue identification, feasible solution generation, optimal decision selection, performance tracking and persuasive writing.
James Brown, lecturer of integrated business: “Any entrepreneur is bombarded with data — about their product, their customer, their operations. On the popular TV show Shark Tank, the Sharks almost immediately ask questions about the data surrounding the entrepreneur’s business. For the entrepreneur, it is not only necessary to understand data from an operations point of view, but also a sales and communications point of view. Business communication is grounded in an understanding of the numbers. It is important to teach data-driven decision making because the amount of data in today’s work environment increases exponentially, and that data tells a hidden story only if the students know the keys to unlock that story.”
Class description: Theoretical and practical training in effective presentational speaking for business and professions.
Suzy Prentiss, adjunct lecturer of communication: “Students across all disciplines can benefit from this course whether they plan to go to graduate or professional school, craft or continue a career, volunteer and serve, or become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs, in particular, need to communicate to a lot of different audiences to meet a variety of needs, and this class is surely value-added. Communication in business and professional settings is very important and can also be extremely stressful. Addressing speech anxiety — whether it happens during a presentation, an interview, or meeting — is an intentional focus of my classes throughout the term and this supports student empathy and empowerment. We also focus on the importance of being genuine and authentic when sharing our stories and stress active listening and team collaboration. All these skills are applicable and transferable.”
Class description: A study of communication functions and problems within the contexts of hierarchies.
Renata Kolodziej-Smith, lecturer of communication: “The goal of this course is to help future professionals to become effective communicators and managers while using current research findings. We use current case studies from contemporary organizations (e.g. Amazon, Fiat-Chrysler, Disney) to analyze their communication management problems in order to discuss possible solutions. At this same time, students learn about historical perspectives and roots of organizational/management communication. There are many students in this class who already work in professional settings as well as others who plan on being entrepreneurs. Many students share their feedback saying that they can apply what they learn in the classroom almost immediately at their workplaces.”
Class description: Principles and practices of social media and its role in communicating to mass audiences.
Joan McCain, associate instructor of communication: “This course can benefit entrepreneurs by giving them a broader and more comprehensive understanding of how social media fits into a strategically developed communication plan. You can’t shoot from the hip when you are creating social media content for a commercial enterprise, no matter the size. Moreover, there are times social media is not appropriate or effective in a comprehensive communication plan. It is not the end-all-be-all vehicle for many messages or programs. Social media is one part of a complex machine, and it requires attention and thought if it is to provide a return on investment.”
Class description: Introduces the student to Japanese culture through the major language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Open only to students with no experience in the language.
Yachiyo Yates (イエイツ八千代), visiting instructor of Japanese: “If students have correct knowledge and understanding about Japanese culture, they can communicate with Japanese people easily without having misunderstandings. I hope that our students will be the bridge between U.S. and Japan, as I expect them to learn basic language skills and have correct cultural knowledge — old and new —by the end of the semester.”
Class description: Introduces vocabulary and terminology in various French business activities, as well as standards, procedures and practices of the French business world.
Taoues Hadour, assistant professor of French: “By the end of the course, I hope students acquire the necessary skills to communicate in French both orally and in writing in a professional setting; be prepared for interpersonal, administrative and business functions; develop personal and intercultural competencies that are a prelude to working with diverse populations; be confident enough to be able to market themselves, negotiate and work in a Francophone workplace. French is undeniably a beneficial language to learn. It is spoken by more than 300 million people and is the second most widely learned foreign language after English. The department of Modern Languages has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce of Paris in order to offer business French diplomas which are recognized nationally and internationally by multiple European governments and companies. This is a perfect opportunity for students to open their horizons and improve their career opportunities after graduation.”
Class description: Examination of concepts related to teams and group dynamics, and development of an understanding of how to become an effective team member, leader and designer.
Lauryn De George, senior instructor: The Teamwork and Collaboration course is unique in that students have the opportunity to challenge themselves while working with others to develop their teamwork skills in interesting and exciting ways. It pushes the boundaries of what they think teamwork is and really practice teamwork. By the end of the semester, students will learn to develop their own personal skills so that they can become better team members. By becoming an effective team member, students are better able to understand how to succeed in different team environments and work with others so that the entire team is successful.
Class description: Provides a foundation on the leadership development process and the impact leaders can have on individuals, groups, and organizations.
Dana Joseph, associate professor of management: This class is arguably the most important class our students take. The leadership skills acquired as part of this course are like a catalyst for one’s career. Everyone can benefit, and the earlier you learn how to lead, the greater the payoff in your career. The goal is to have students understand there are different styles of leadership. Not everyone needs to be like Elon Musk or Martin Luther King Jr. or Bill Gates; instead, we all just need to know what our leadership strengths are and know what job or role these strengths are best suited for. That is true, authentic leadership.